Playstation 3 and 3D Blu-Ray movies

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With the release of the 3.50 firmware update, the Playstation 3 now plays 3D Blu-Ray movies.  My older Mitsubishi DLP TV is 3D-ready but only supports the checkerboard 3D format that nobody uses anymore.  However there is a converter kit (available without glasses for $100, with glasses for $300) that will convert multiple 3D formats to checkerboard, including the format used by 3D Blu-Ray movies as well as side-by-side (left/right or top/bottom) formats for 3D TV.

I got the converter kit a week before the PS3 update so I had a chance to try it out on 3D TV.  It worked great, though I had to manually set the TV to 3D mode and the converter to the appropriate side-by-side format.  However when I plugged in the PS3 and tried to play the 3D sampler that came with the kit, I kept getting a warning that either my player or TV was not 3D and it reverted to boring 2D.  When I tried this the update had been out for less than an hour, so searching for help on the internets was no use.  Time to troubleshoot!

My first thought was to check the PS3's Video Settings, but that didn't provide any obvious 3D options.  Next I tried turning on 3D on my TV before playing the disk but that didn't work either.  Okay, how about Display Settings?  Nothing obvious there either, but there's an option for "Video Output Settings", so I went ahead and tried that.  I turned on my TV's 3D mode and then selected the Video Output Settings option.  After choosing my connection type (HDMI) and letting it auto-detect the resolution, the PS3 then told me that my TV was indeed 3D capable!  I had to tell it the size of my TV, and then everything was golden.  I started the disc, the converter box automatically detected the signal, and it was time to watch some 3D.

If you're running into the same issue, try the following:

  1. Turn on your TV's 3D mode.  This may not be necessary with newer HDMI 1.4 TVs that can auto-detect 3D capability, but older DLP TVs will almost certainly have to do this first.
  2. On the PS3 CrossBar interface, go to Settings and then down to Display Settings
  3. In Display Settings, select Video Output Settings and let it auto-detect.
  4. If everything works, Video Output Settings should tell you that your TV is 3D capable and ask you to put in the size of your TV for "optimal display".

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Apparently the new thing to do on web sites is to put a floating toolbar over your content in some misguided attempt to get people to sign up, or "capture their eyes", or some other bullshit that values annoyance over usability. Normally I'd just say fuck it and not go back to any site that did this, but this trend is spreading and it doesn't look like it'll stop any time soon. Thus I have to do something about it.

Stylish to the rescue! By using this add-on plus a custom user style, I'm systematically going through web and killing these toolbars as I find them. If you want to benefit from this, you can download the CSS file from here. Copy and paste that into a new rule in Stylish and it will start working immediately. I'll update it periodically as I come across other sites with annoying toolbars. Once I've caught most of the big toolbars, I'll eventually put this up on for everyone to use.

Currently the style removes the following crap:

  • Wibiya toolbar on any site
  • Meebo toolbar on any site
  • Apture toolbar on any site (this one is particularly annoying because it only appears when you scroll)
  • The fixed-position toolbar on
  • NY Times "next article" blob that shows up when you scroll down the page
  • CNet's login toolbar
  • CBS News login crap
  • Reuters crap (apparently they also use Apture for a double whammy)

Fuck you, toolbar bastards. You can't control my web experience.





Not really an update

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I just moved hosting providers and haven't bothered to upload everything here. All of the articles still exist, but many downloads are no longer available. Given that I rarely use this blog for anything it'll probably stay that way for some time.

Gaming backlog

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My little brother came out to visit over the 4th of July, and he pointed me to his new project: finishing his entire backlog of games. While I applaud his effort and wish him luck, he's more ambitious than I am. I have my own backlog (don't we all?), but I just don't have the motivation to take up the gauntlet and work my way through. There's too much new good stuff out now or coming soon that I'd rather get a taste of it all instead of immersing myself in one game at a time. That's not to say that I don't get caught up in certain games. I played Forza 2 nearly exclusively for all of June, and I continue to play it now. I just can't see myself focusing what little gaming time I have on going through my stack of games. Maybe someday ...

Xbox 360, Live, and NAT update

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A little over a year ago, I posted how I fixed some problems I was having with Xbox Live by setting up UPnP on my Linux router. Since I was finally able to get my hands on an Xbox 360, I figured it was time to update my guide on using Live behind a Linux NAT. The instructions work for both Xbox and Xbox 360, but I'm going to focus on the Xbox 360 configuration this time around.

First things first. If you don't need to do this, don't do this. How do you know if you need to do this? Are you using Linux as a NAT router for your home network? Does the Xbox 360 report your NAT as moderate? If so, you probably need to do this. What is "this"? Keep reading.

Since the last time I posted, the Linux-IGD project has seen some development, but to look at their home page you wouldn't know it. Even the Sourceforge page still shows 0.92 as the latest version, having not been updated since January 12, 2003. All of the recent changes are in their CVS repository, though, so we'll build from that instead. Follow the instructions to checkout linux-igd to your machine.

If you followed my previous post, make sure you've fully uninstalled upnpsdk and linuxigd (a "make uninstall" should be enough for upnpsdk, and for linuxigd you should at least make sure upnpd is not running and remove the /etc/linuxigd directory). Once you've checked out the CVS project, you'll find a file called INSTALL. Read that to guide you through installing libupnp-1.2.1. Make sure you download version 1.2.1 and not version 1.2.1a from the download page. The INSTALL file is not exactly correct, as you can't just run "make" from the libupnp-1.2.1 root directory. Instead, go down into the upnp directory under libupnp-1.2.1 and run make there. This should also build ixml and threadutil at the previous directory level. Follow the rest of the INSTALL steps, making sure to copy the extra ixml and threadutil libs and includes. Finally, you can build and install the CVS linux-igd following the steps in the INSTALL file.

Before you fire up upnpd, first take a look through /etc/upnpd.conf and make sure everything is set to your liking. Some settings I suggest (these should be the defaults):

  • Make sure "iptables_location" points to the path to your iptables binary. This should default to /usr/sbin/iptables and should already be correct, but double-check to be sure.
  • debug_mode = 1. Without this, you're not going to be able to keep tabs on what upnpd is doing.
  • Make sure the chain names for forward and prerouting are correct for your configuration. The defaults should usually be right, but it doesn't hurt to double-check.
  • Set your upstream_bitrate and downstream_bitrate if you really care. These are in bits per second, not bytes, so make sure you multiply by 8 if you start from bytes per second. For example, 2 Megabits per second would be 2097152, but 2 MegaBytes per second would be 16777216.
Now you can fire up upnpd by running "upnpd <external ifname> <internal ifname>", where <external ifname> and <internal ifname> depend on your configuration (they are eth0 and eth1 for me, respectively, but yours might be different -- check /sbin/ifconfig if you're not sure). If all goes well, upnpd will now be running if you look at the process list (I use "ps waux | grep upnpd", and look for entries like "/usr/sbin/upnpd eth0 eth1"), and you should see some messages in /var/log/messages and /var/log/debug.

Now that that's taken care of, start up your Xbox 360 and go to the System blade. From here, choose Network Settings and then Test Xbox Live Connection. You'll be prompted that testing the connection will sign out all profiles, so choose Yes and get down to business. You should now see something like this:

The most important line is the one called "NAT", and it should read "Open", like so:
(For original Xbox users, read my original post for steps to check your NAT level.) If it doesn't, something went wrong. On the linux box, run "tail -f /var/log/debug" (if your syslogd is configured to log debug messages somewhere else, tail that log instead -- you can find out what your syslogd will do by looking at /etc/syslog.conf). When you run the Test Xbox Live Connection troubleshooter, you should see something similar to the following in your log when it gets to the "Xbox Live" portion of the test.
If you don't see that, run "killall upnpd" and then check ps to make sure upnpd has died before restarting it. Watch the debug log when restarting, and if you see any errors you can look into the Linux-IGD forums to see if you can find some help. Luckily for me, everything worked great the first time.

By the way, if you have a Windows box behind your NAT, it should now pick up the UPnP gateway device (you may have to install some components through the Add/Remove Programs applet to be able to see UPnP connections, and even if you already have UPnP support installed you'll need to reboot for the OS to pick up the gateway device). For example, on my XP laptop, I now see this in my Network Connections control panel:

From here, you can drill down into the gateway device's Status, then Properties, and finally Settings to see the list of current port mappings.
If you can't get this working, you can use Noel Danjou's UPnPTest (about halfway down the page, "Univeral Plug-and-Play Tester") to test your UPnP configuration instead. Linux-IGD still reports itself as version 0.92, but the CVS version is really something like 1.04 or 1.05 now.

Hopefully this will help out other people trying to get Xbox Live working on their original Xbox or new Xbox 360, since Microsoft doesn't officially support Linux as a NAT router. If you've had problems and been told to go buy a router off of the official compatibility list even though you'd rather continue with your Linux setup, this is for you.

Update: One minor note that I forgot. You may need to do a little bit of manual patching of the linux-igd code, if that fix hasn't merged into CVS. Read that thread, and look in your downloaded code to see if you need to manually patch or not before you actually build.

Tetris on - Livetris

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For my next Gadget, I give you Livetris. It's a completely DHTML re-implementation of the classic puzzle game. It's still pretty basic right now, and only has 10 different speed levels (currently non-configurable, so you have to start at level 1 and work your way up). Block randomization needs some tweaking, since right now it's all too likely to end up with a long string of crap blocks without the bar or square you need to complete a set of lines. I also need to do some work on the scoring, as right now there's no bonus for clearing multiple lines at once. Finally, I'm still tweaking piece colors until I find something I really like, but that's the beauty of a Gadget -- I can make all of the changes I want, and you'll see that reflected on without any user intervention.

As with my Analog Clock Gadget, this one continues to use the awesome JavaScript VectorGraphics library. This is a very robust and powerful tool, and I highly recommend others check it out.

I plan to eventually put my Gadgets up on the Microsoft Gadgets site, but for now you can use these installation instructions:

  1. Copy
    to your clipboard.
  2. On, select Add Content on the sidebar and then Advanced.
  3. Paste the Gadget URL into the Add a Gadget by URL textbox.
  4. Select the Add button.

Compatibility notes: For now, this Gadget is IE-only due to the way I'm handling keyboard input. I hope to get this working with Firefox soon, but I figured I may as well release what I've got right now. Analog Clock Gadget

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With the launch of Windows Live yesterday, I decided I should try my hand at writing a Gadget (yes, I know has been doing the Gadget thing for a while, and is nothing more than a re-branded What better than a simple Analog Clock? Thanks to the JavaScript VectorGraphics library folks for an awesome DHTML drawing library.

The Analog Clock Gadget works with both and

To install (cribbed from Microsoft Gadgets' installation instructions):

  1. Copy
    to your clipboard.
  2. On, select Add Content on the sidebar and then Advanced.
  3. Paste the Gadget URL into the Add a Gadget by URL textbox.
  4. Select the Add button.

For some months now, I've not been able to use Microsoft Terminal Server to connect from my laptop to my work desktop. Oh, I could connect just fine, but then immediately (or very shortly) after logging in I'd be disconnected with the unhelpful error, "Because of a protocol error, this session will be disconnected. Please try connecting to the remote computer again." What does that mean, and what do I do if the error happens again when I try to reconnect as it says? off to search for an answer. Nothing useful there, and Microsoft's help for this message is complete useless. "Try connecting to the remote computer again. If you receive the same message, contact the server administrator." Reconnecting caused the same problem, and I'm the administrator. I tried contacting myself, but I couldn't get through. Now what?

Today I finally found the solution. First let me say that this problem is not with a Windows CE machine, nor is it with the web interface to Remote Desktop. This is a Windows XP to Windows XP session. Anyway, on to the answer.

I had already ruled out bad patches, bad software installations, and even went through a series of troubleshooting steps to "reset" terminal server. Out of the blue today, I got the idea that maybe the visual style I was using could cause this problem, as it might be a drawing issue that TS can't handle. I was using the "sgnome" style (don't remember where I got it but I think it was from deviantART originally), so I swapped back to the default Luna style and tried a TS connection.


It worked! Okay, verify it. Previously, the act of opening an email in Outlook could cause the error, so I tried that. It still works. Tried replying to an email, still worked. Now my TS sessions are rock solid, I'm not getting kicked with a "protocol error", and all I did was change my style back to Luna. WTF? Well, I can't live with Luna as it's too boring, so I went searching for a different style. I settled on Reluna, after verifying that it didn't break anything else.

Why did I think of visual styles? In the past I've had bad styles that broke other things. Most notably, I've had some styles that caused really bad rendering problems when opening a scheduled meeting request from Outlook. If a style can screw that up, it certainly can screw up Terminal Server. The moral of the story is to be careful when using user-created visual styles. They're not certified by Microsoft in any way (in fact, you will generally have to hack uxtheme.dll or pay for something like StyleXP to use non-Microsoft styles at all), and can do some nasty stuff. If you do run into random problems that you've never experienced with a previous style, switch back to Classic or Luna as part of your troubleshooting steps, and see if that solves it.

I've updated the depiq user script, now version 2, to support Slashdot's recent HTML 4.0 + CSS site redesign. You'll want to remove the old script, as the script name has changed to represent the version update.

While the change is nice, and fixes some weird HTML (why was the first article on a page different than all of the rest), they still haven't made it very nice. For example, they have a div with an id of "articles", which you would think contains a bunch of articles. That it does, but it also contains storylinks (the "Read more" links under each article) and some other crap. Why doesn't an article encompass its own storylinks? Why are there other bits at the end of the div, like the "Yesterday's news" link? Oh well, I'll keep at it so long as they keep posting Roland stories.